Woman's hand dipping paintbrush into watercolor palette with text overlay: 3 Ways Creative Activities Benefit Wellness

3 Ways Creative Activities Benefit Wellness

Are you creative? I always say I want to be creative so badly I can hardly stand it, but I’m not. I’m pretty good at re-creating things I’ve seen somewhere – wreaths, home decor, etc. – but I’m not good at actually coming up with my own ideas. If you’re like me and think you’re not creative, you may not want to give up on your creative pursuits just yet. Even if you’re not very creative, participating in creative activities can benefit wellness in several ways.

Here are 3 ways being creative can benefit your health and wellness:

1. Engaging in creative activities can reduce stress.

Who doesn’t need a little less stress in their lives? Being creative can reduce the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This is due in part to something some psychologists call “flow.”

According to an article by Therapy Group of NYC, (1) the Flow Genome Project (an organization that researches human performance), defines the state of flow as “those moments of rapt attention and total absorption when you get so focused on the task at hand that everything else disappears and all aspects of performance, both mental and physical, go through the roof.”

When we’re concentrating on that painting, crochet or quilting project, our novel-in-progress, or any other creative activity, there’s no room for anything else. This flow state actually results from changes in brain function. Our brainwaves slow down (much like during meditation or yoga), our prefrontal cortex quietens, making us less self-critical, and several feel-good chemicals are released.

2. Being creative may help with anxiety and depression.

In several studies, (3) participants saw improvements in levels of anxiety and depression after participating in art therapy. One theory for why this helps is that it can help “develop a greater sense of self through the act of creation.”

3. It can help improve quality of life for those with dementia or other neurological diseases.

Creative pursuits can be an important part of self-care for people who are living with dementia or other neurological diseases. Researchers have found that participating in these types of activities can help people regain a sense of self and provide feelings of accomplishment. (4)

Brightly colored chalks with text overlay: "Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones." ~Bruce Garrabrandt

Are you ready to get creative now?

Do any of these benefits encourage you to get busy creating? For some people, the idea of getting creative can be daunting. That’s because we may think of creativity as something like making art or playing a musical instrument — something big.

We also tend to think we have to be “good at it” right away.

The truth is, though, that we can do lots of things that tap into our creativity. Here’s a list of just some of the things we can try to get our creative juices flowing:

  1. Try journalling.
  2. Paint – oil, watercolor, acrylics, your walls….
  3. Try out some of the adult coloring books you can find almost everywhere these days.
  4. Do a DIY project – refresh and repurpose that old stool, make and plant some flower boxes for your porch or windows, etc.
  5. Try a beading project.
  6. Do a decoupage project.
  7. Make a scrapbook.
  8. Learn to play a musical instrument.
  9. Start that novel you’ve been thinking of writing.
  10. Learn to knit or crochet.
  11. Try some new recipes or take a cooking class.
  12. Build something.
  13. Develop or brush up on your photography skills.
  14. Learn the art of hand lettering.
  15. Learn to sew or do a new sewing project.

These are just a few of the creative activities I could think of off the top of my head. It doesn’t really matter what type of creative pursuits we explore. What matters is that we do it. As we talked about in Making Time to Relax, each of us needs to find what helps us unwind and let our minds take a break for a while. It’s important to remember that creativity isn’t a result; it’s a process, and that process is what benefits our wellness.

What types of activities would you add to the list? Which ones do you like to participate in? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

If you found this helpful in any way, I’d love for you to share it!

Woman's hand dipping paintbrush into a watercolor palette with text overlay: 3 Ways Creative Activities Benefit Wellness

Sources:

(1) https://nyctherapy.com/therapists-nyc-blog/creativity-is-your-secret-advantage-for-mental-health-and-well-being/

(2) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-playing-field/201402/flow-states-and-creativity

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279641/

(4) https://newsroom.uhc.com/health/art-wellness.html

(5) https://www.flowgenomeproject.com

39 comments

    1. You make such a great point about keeping the ‘editor’ and ‘judge’ on the shelf when it comes to our creative pursuits Dorothy! It’s too easy to let that inner critic take over and tell us our creations aren’t good enough when we should just enjoy the process of creating. I know you do a lot of (delicious!) creating in your kitchen. Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

      1. Well the doctor reports are stacking up bad this past few weeks but I’m not letting it get me down. Still so much to learn before I write about all the devastation.

      2. Oh Mel, I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through such a rough time right now. I’ve been praying for you and will continue to. Sending hugs your way sweet friend.

  1. I loved this post Terri. Isn’t it amazing how each person does something to alleviate stress differently. Of course, you know that my therapy is through my writing, but my wife finds it through jewelry making and both my kids are through drawing. It’s interesting how creative endeavors are beneficial to our wellness. Spot on with this post!

    1. Thanks so much Mark! Creativity takes so many forms, doesn’t it? And like you said, we all have different things that we use to alleviate stress. It sounds like your family does lots of creative things. There was a period when I was making lots of jewelry, but I got out of the habit once I started having such bad Fibro symptoms. Now that I’m doing so much better I hope to get back to it. I have tons of jewelry-making supplies in my office closet that need to be used.😊 Hope you’re continuing to stay safe and well my friend!

      1. Creativity does take on many forms doesn’t it Terri. Glad to hear you’re doing much better. Stay safe as well my friend!

  2. Great post. I never think I am being creative but I enjoy gardening, scrapbooking, sewing, cooking and crocheting. Most times I start with instructions and then I get more creative when I don’t have an item in the recipe or find an error in my crocheting, sewing or scrapbooking and it’s a fun challenge to figure out how to fix it or incorporate it. 🤣. Totally concur with article about Flow too. Thank you for the reminder we can be creative. Also the comments from others about not being judge and editor – the enjoy and relax.

    1. Thanks so much Sarah! I know you don’t think you’re creative, but I see your creativity in ways that you may not think of as creative. I’ve seen it in the way you’ve raised your girls, managed your (busy!) schedule, and found ways to show others you care. And if you can figure out how to straighten up something you’ve messed up while crocheting, then you’re definitely creative. I had to give up on that venture; I didn’t have the patience for it.😁 Sending love and hugs your way!

  3. I love being creative Terri! Writing is one of those creative pursuits that is truly therapeutic for me. As is creating a comfy & welcoming home, crocheting, card making, baking & all those things where some type of creative thought goes into the activity.
    Great post dear friend!
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

    1. Thank you so much Jennifer! It sounds like you have some wonderful creative projects going on…. You bring up a great point about making your home comfy and welcoming being creative. Hope you’re staying safe and well sweet friend! Hugs!

  4. I love this post and shared it on my church Facebook page. I like the list of possibilities that you offer. My primary creative effort is writing, but also occasionally baking. Thanks and blessings, Michele

    1. Thank you so much Michele! I appreciate you sharing on your FB page also! I’m glad you found the list helpful – I feel like the possibilities could almost be endless. Baking can be relaxing, can’t it? I mostly just bake bread these days, but I used to love making and decorating cakes when I was younger. Blessings to you sweet friend!

  5. I never thought I was creative either, until illness hit and I was grounded. Photography opened the door for me, and then a couple of painting lessons – I was only able to attend 2 1/2 of the 6 week sessions, but it was enough to get me going. Recently I bought my granddaughters embroidery sets and now their mothers are taking up. I think the busy hands take our minds off of things.

    1. Well, I’m glad you were wrong VJ, because now you share your creativity with us! Some of my fondest memories are of my Grandma teaching me to embroider. I hope your granddaughters and their moms enjoy it as much as I used to. I agree that busy hands can take our minds off of things. Hope you’re doing well and hubby is healing sweet friend. Hugs!

  6. I think as humans, we are born to create, it’s innate within us. Whether it be a borrowed idea, original (though, I believe, those are few and far between), or recreated. Its all a product of our desire to accomplish something and leave our mark. Wonderful post, Teri, with an encouraging message that includes the many benefits of getting creative. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Mark! I agree that we seem to innately have this drive to create. You make a great point about us all wanting to “accomplish something and leave our mark.” Hope you’re doing well and staying safe my friend!

  7. I adore this post, Terri! God is the ultimate Creator and I believe that He gave each of us an instinct to create. It’s funny that you don’t see yourself as very creative because I think you’re brilliant at it!

    As you wrote about the flow state during creativity, it made perfect sense why there is such a deep relaxation! I suppose that’s why people who work too much and don’t take enough time to simply slow down, enjoy life, and do something creative, feel such high levels of stress?

    I have a dear friend who loves those adult coloring books and have always been curious to try one. Have you ever tried those? They seem so relaxing and bring back memories of sitting down as a child with crayons and coloring book in hand. 🙂

    Writing, cooking, gardening, and DIY projects are all winners here in our home.

    Thank you for another great post, Terri. Your thoughts always resonate with me. I’ve pinned and tweeted! Hope the rest of your week and weekend is restful and peaceful!

    1. Thank you so much Holly, and sorry for the delay in answering. I had one of those days-long headaches that made me not even want to look at my computer, much less use it.😊 You asked about the adult coloring books – I actually have several, and they can be really relaxing. I use colored pencils with mine, because they pictures are a lot more detailed. It’s great to hear that you’re a gardener too. I’m starting to get excited about being able to get my lettuce and spinach sown in a few weeks. Thanks so much for your lovely comment and for sharing this. Sending lots of love and hugs your way sweet friend!

  8. Great post! I tend to agree with you – I love to create/recreate but don’t think I’m very creative. And I’m not that great but I do love to paint rocks to keep, hide, and give away!
    My brother uses art and music therapy with his memory care residents. Music memory is often the last to go. ❤️ Take care, Terri!

    1. Thank you so much Cynthia! Isn’t it funny how we love to create, but don’t think we’re creative? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some of your painted rocks in one of your blog posts, and they looked great! I’m so glad your brother and other caregivers see the value of art and music therapy. I’ve seen how powerful music can be for people whose memories have faded. I hope you’re staying safe and well sweet friend. Sending hugs!

  9. Oooo I love this, very nicely done, Terri! I’ve been wanting – or perhaps feeling like I ‘should’ – get back into something more creative. I lose the motivation because I literally haven’t had the time, and then I’m so exhausted. Excuses excuses… I’d almost forgotten how much joy and benefit can come from some of the creative things I used to do, and I love your suggestions here to inspire us. I also love how flow was described as “those moments of rapt attention and total absorption”. That sounds so good! I suppose I get that when I blog and do Canva designs, so that’s a good start! xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I totally get it when you say you’ve been feeling you don’t have enough time, or when you do, feeling too exhausted to do something creative. I get like that too. I’m learning, though, that if I can just set aside 30 minutes most days to do something I enjoy (for me lately, it’s been watercolor), it really does act as a stress reliever for me. And hey — you’re already doing something creative almost all the time with your blog and all that goes with it. I hope you’re staying safe and well sweet friend. Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

  10. For so long I couldn’t be creative at all. All previous pursuits beyond reach. But over time I have found creative things I can do & enjoy without burning out. Lovely post, Terri. We all need an outlet of some sort. Penny Xx

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Penny! Sometimes we have to change the things we do to adjust for our changing life circumstances, don’t we? I’m so glad you’ve been able to find things you can enjoy without burning out doing them. I hope you’re staying safe and well sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

  11. I’ve been thinking about you and wanted to see if you are doing okay. I did not read about you taking a leave so wanted to make sure you were doing well. Let me know how you you are when you can.

    1. Thanks so much for checking in Melinda! I’m doing fine; I’ve just been doing some serious thinking about whether or not to continue blogging. This wasn’t really a planned break; I just have been wrestling with my way forward. I appreciate you thinking of and checking on me. I hope you and your medical team are getting a handle on the new developments with your health and that you’re doing as well as possible. Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

      1. If I could give you one thought, open up your topics. Don’t focus on Wellness or one other topic in a row. Give yourself the freedom to blog what you wish, what you see and what interest you at the moment. Another thought is, don’t take it too serious, it will eat at you that way. It’s a blog, not life dependant. Write what make you happy and don’t worry about meeting certain time lines ot posting certain dyas. Maybe trying a less restrictive approach will free your creaticity. I hope you decide to continue, you have so many great ideas to offer. 🙂 Do what’s best for you, your health and your family. This blogging thing can go at anytime and it’s nothing in the big scheme of things,. We do this for fun and to help out but someone else will fill our shoes.

    1. I’m working on a post now, so maybe by next week…. I’ve been using this “away” time to finish up one of my Continuing Ed classes and take care of some other odds and ends, so I haven’t really been in a hurry to get back to blogging. I’m still figuring things out with what I want to do going forward. Thanks so much for checking on me – I miss you too!

      1. Continuing Ed is alwasy so motivating and builds my confidence. One thing I’ve started doing very different on my blog is book reviews. The ones I’ve done so far have nothing to do with chronic illness although a couple I have lined up are more mnetal health related. If you love to read that is an avenue you could persure on your own and if you get lucky hook up with a publishing house who will send you books to review. I find it very rewarding and so different for my regular writing. I’m reading four books now. You’ll figue it out, just remember don’t be too restrictive on yourself. I do believe you love and are passonate about blogging and I can’t imagine you walking away completely. Maybe you only post twice a onth if that’s better but I think you have the writing bug in you and I donn’t see that going away.

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